Thursday, June 09, 2011

Confession Time

Okay, it's time to fess up.
My six-mile run this past Saturday was a disaster.
Well maybe not a disaster.
It just did not go as planned.
Given that I had such a good run the week before, I was expecting an equally good session this time, as well.

The goal is simple – to run the six mile course without stopping.
Never mind that my time to accomplish this task is longer than in my younger days.
I can live with that.
I just want to run the course without stopping and with nothing broken.
In that respect, this last session achieved half of my goal.

As I have said in past blogs, because of the hilly terrain of the first three miles of the course, I can tell in the first half mile how I am going to do in any particular attempt.
And it was so this past Saturday as well.
I did not feel “strong” early on.
I did not feel weak exactly, just not at my best.
So that set me to wondering if I would have to cut the session short or what.

In times past I have found myself with diminished breathing capacity that reduced my running ability, but that has not happened in several weeks – and may be fixed for good.
This past session, I just felt less strong, and to my surprise, my breathing was never a problem.

But by the time I got to the first serious little hill early in mile three, I knew I was in for a difficult journey.
I pondered whether to turn around and limit the party to four miles, but ego got the best of me.
I wanted to go the whole way, thinking that early in mile four the course is virtually all down hill.
So I kept going.
But I stopped and walked that first hill.
When things leveled out a bit, I started running again.
Then I walked The Hill at the end of mile three, as planned.
But I had to walk a few hundred feet in mile four, and another few hundred feet in mile five, and a hill in mile six, just over a half mile from the finish line.

I finished discouraged and perplexed (and running).
Why was I so “weak”?
I could think of no reason.
I had gotten a nominal amount of sleep the day/night before.
I had done a normal chest workout Friday morning with no signs of weakness.
I did not “feel” tired or sick.
So, why did I bomb so badly on my favorite course?
Surely, I am not too old to run this distance any more.
Or am I?
I am 66.
Is it time to face the reality of my age?

In the last six or eight weeks I have run this course only twice without stopping to walk at least once.
Some of the walking can be attributed to building up my running strength to handle the course distance from the three-and-a half mile distance I was running previously.
But which is the exception and which is the rule, running the six miles without stopping, or running the six miles with a walk or two mixed in?
Part of me does not want to know the answer.

We will try it again next week and see how we do.
I fear I may have to kiss my favorite running course goodbye.

I can remember my great grandmother, her long white hair pulled back in a neat bun, sitting in her old wooden rocking chair in her big, nearly empty living room, looking out the tall front windows of her old house (which was long ago demolished in downtown Sacramento).
Just sitting silently and looking out, watching the cars and occasional pedestrian go by.

It did not register at that time how lonely and empty her life must have been then.
I was just a kid about 8, maybe, self-centered and focused on playing with things, too shy to want to interact with people I did not know very well.
I remember us talking - she asking me questions, me answering, me asking questions, she answering.
I fear I was a bit terse in my comments.
But I did not know what to say to her.
I remember feeling very disconnected with my great-grandmother.
I did not know much about her, her childhood, where she was born, where she had lived, if she worked, where she had worked, etc.
And, frankly, I did not care then.
I was too young to appreciate the value of wisdom and perspective of older people then.

Some days I feel very close to that scene.
But the person in the rocking chair is me.

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